Despite as many as 100,000 lost jobs since its peak in 2014, the annual report on the Eagle Ford Shale by the UTSA Center for Community and Business Research shows the shale field is still an incredibly important, and productive, piece of the Texas economy, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
UTSA economist Tom Tunstall says the shale field south of San Antonio still employs about 100,000 people, and has a $55 billion impact on the state's economy.
"The worst of the things appear to have happened last year," Tunstall said. "Now, as companies bring people back, they are clearly going to be more cautious about what positions to fill, they have become a lot more efficient."
Gross output from the 21 county Eagle Ford region fell from a peak of $123 billion in 2014 to $50 billion last year, when oil prices bottomed out below $30 a barrel.
But Tunstall says the slower growth we are seeing today as oil prices rebound will actually be more more beneficial in the long term for the small towns that dot the shale region.
"They have taken it on the chin the last couple of years, but things are coming back in a more incremental and manageable fashion."
Tunstall says the boom on oil production between 2012 and 2014, when nearly a quarter million workers poured into the sparsely populated area led to the creation of 'man camps,' caused significant damage to roads and infrastructure, and didn't prodive the small towns with the opportunity to plan ahead.
Tunstall says now there is a more controlled growth in the region, with more permanent sources of revenue, with sales of natural gas to Mexico, for example.